Law Society Fee Mediation Program offers free mediation to manage fee disputes
Lawyers with mediation experience needed to fill roster of qualified mediators
For over 30 years, the Law Society’s Fee Mediation Program has been an alternative to the assessment of a lawyer’s account by a registrar of the Supreme Court.
The program relies on a roster of qualified mediators and the Law Society is currently seeking lawyers who are interested in being a part of this important program.
Complaints about fees are one of the more common inquiries received by the Law Society. While the Society does not have jurisdiction to order a lawyer to reduce or refund legal fees, the Fee Mediation Program is a way to meet the needs of complainants who would otherwise be turned away.
The program is voluntary and non-binding. Either a lawyer or a client can request mediation by submitting an application to the Law Society. If both the lawyer and the client agree to the process, the Society appoints an independent, neutral mediator from its roster.
The range of amounts that can be mediated is a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $25,000.
The program is free for participants and up to three hours of mediation time is provided, in person or by telephone. Mediators are currently compensated at $300 plus reasonable expenses, which is funded by the Law Society.
In 2012 and 2013, almost 80% of the fee mediations that were completed resulted in successful resolution.
To ensure the program remains available to anyone who requests it, the Law Society is currently recruiting mediators throughout BC.
Law Society intake officer Lynne Knights has been responsible for the operation and administration of the program almost since its inception. “The lawyers on our roster tell me that mediating is time well spent,” she said, “as more often than not they are able to achieve a satisfactory resolution for both the client and lawyer involved in the fee dispute.”
Gerald Lecovin, QC has been acting as a Law Society fee mediator for many years. He sees benefit to both the lawyer and client through the Fee Mediation Program. “For clients, there is no cost to participate, and they don’t have to incur further legal fees by hiring a new lawyer to represent them,” he reasoned. “For both sides, they are able to have the benefit of an experienced, dispassionate lawyer who is currently in practice and so has up-to-date knowledge as to whether the fees are appropriate.”
To be a mediator in the program, lawyers must meet the following qualifications:
- member of Mediate BC/Civil Roster;
- minimum of five years related experience.
“Many lawyer-mediators have told me how fulfilling it is to have an opportunity to both serve the public and give back to the profession,” said Knights.
If you have questions or would like to be considered for the roster of mediators, please contact Lynne Knights at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants should send an expression of interest including a summary of their experience with mediation.